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A radical protocol, designed to protect access to justice for injured claimants in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has been supported by nearly 450 signatories, has been extended until the 20th May 2020, at least.

So far, the ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Injury Protocol’, developed in an unprecedented alliance between Thompsons Solicitors and the ABI, has been adopted by 335 law firms and 105 insurance companies. Following a joint review, it will be extended for another four weeks to the 20th May.

The protocol aims to head any practical or procedural opportunism presented by coronavirus (COVID-19) off at the pass by calling for flexibility on both sides designed to keep the UK justice system moving while the lockdown and work at home order is in place.

The protocol was launched on 24 March 2020, and was initially designed to be in place until the 14 April. It has now been extended until 20 May after proving effective in helping personal injury solicitors – both defendant and claimant – and insurers to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their work.

Tom Jones, Thompsons Solicitors’ head of policy, said:

“Since we launched the protocol at the end of March, it has secured backing from hundreds of organisations and is proving effective in protecting access for justice for injured claimants during these testing times. We set out to ensure the protocol was embraced industry-wide, and that’s exactly what we’ve achieved.

“What we’ve shown is that we – and many others both in law and insurance – are prepared to work collaboratively for the greater good, setting aside historical differences.

“We hope that this commitment to keeping access to justice for innocent claimants front of mind continues beyond lockdown, and that sharp practice ‘point scoring’ is something both industries reflect on before they return to the fray.”

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers, said:

“We are pleased that the protocol has been extended. The growing number of signatories demonstrates the commitment of insurers to work with others to ensure that claimants get the help and support they need during this worrying and uncertain time.”

The protocol has been extended with a joint review taking place week commencing 13 May. By then the Lord Chief Justice’s office may have formal instructions in place. 

For now, organisations can pledge their commitment to the protocol on the ABI’s website, here.